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Surfing on the world stage: a narrative review of acute and overuse injuries and preventative measures for the competitive and recreational surfer
  1. Bayan Minasian1,2,
  2. Nigel Hope3
  1. 1 Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia
  2. 2 Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Randwick, NSW, Australia
  3. 3 University of Notre Dame, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bayan Minasian, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia; bayanminas{at}


Surfing has rapidly grown in popularity as the sport made its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Surfing injuries are becoming more relevant with the globalisation and increasing risks of the sport, but despite this, little is known about surfing injuries or prevention strategies in either the competitive or recreational surfer. Prior research demonstrates that surfers are injured at a frequency of 0.74–1.79 injuries per 1000 hours of surfing. We reviewed the literature for the incidence, anatomical distribution, type and underlying mechanism of acute and overuse injuries, and discuss current preventative measures. This review finds that skin injuries represent the highest proportion of total injuries. Acute injuries most frequently affect the head, neck and face, followed by the lower limbs. Being struck by one’s own board is the most common mechanism of injury. Non-contact acute ligament injuries have increased as surfing manoeuvres have become more acrobatic and overuse musculoskeletal injuries are highly correlated with paddling. However, there is a paucity of research for surfing injuries, and studies on overuse musculoskeletal injuries and prevention are disproportionally under-represented. Most of the prior studies are limited by small sample sizes, poor data collection methodology and geographical constraints. Further research is needed to establish preventative measures for both acute and overuse surfing injuries and to ensure the increasing popularity of surfing is met with an improved understanding of sport risks and safety. Specifically, we recommend research be prioritised regarding the efficacy of training programmes to prevent surfing-related overuse musculoskeletal injuries.

  • sporting injuries
  • review
  • olympics
  • injury prevention
  • water sports

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  • Contributors BM and NH conceived the study. BM and NH were responsible for the main conceptual ideas and outline of the review. BM performed the literature search, collected all of the data from identified studies, investigated surfing injury prevention strategies and wrote the manuscript. Both BM and NH discussed the findings and contributed to the final manuscript. NH supervised the study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.